On September 6, 1997 a freshman by the name of Drew Brees entered late in Purdue’s season opening 36-22 loss at Toledo. It was the debut of coach Joe Tiller and after 12 years of losing seasons, there were no signs as to the turnaround that was about to happen. Purdue lost by two touchdowns at a MAC school and for the Purdue faithful, Tiller was more of the same. Brees completed 11 of 21 attemtps for 97 yards in the second half as Purdue looked for a spark, but after trailing 27-14 at halftime they couldn’t come back. Brees was just the backup QB that had a decent debut.
Now he has one of the most coveted records in his sport.
For the 6,301st time in his career Drew Brees completed an NFL regular season pass. No one else has done that. Ever. He moved past Brett Favre’s total of 6,300 completed passes with his 14th completion today against the Atlanta Falcons to take over the all-time lead in that category. He should stay atop the list for a while, too. Tom Brady is the closest active quarterback to him, but trails by roughly 600 completions, so he would need to play two full seasons after whenever Brees retires to catch him. Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger are also in the top 10 and still active, but Manning is more than 1,800 completions behind Brees. Matthew Stafford, who just completed his 3,000th pass and is 30 years old, might be the only active QB with a realistic shot of catching Brees.
Over the past 21 years it has been incredible to see Brees develop. The QB unwanted by his native Texas schools set records at Purdue and took us to the highest we have been in the last half century. He nearly washed out of the NFL, with the Chargers giving up on him and acquiring Rivers, but recovered from a brutal shoulder injury to join the Saints. Of the nine 5,000 yard passing seasons in NFL history he has five of them. No one else has more than one.
He already has one Super Bowl and a Super Bowl MVP award and would probably have more if not for his defense (which he should be able to sue for malpractice). Now he has one of the most coveted passing records out there.
Oh, and he is not done yet. He is merely adding to his plaque in Canton.